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What to Look for When Shopping for a Wood Cook Stove

This shopping guide was prepared by www.woodcooking.com, US sellers of La Nordica wood cook stoves.

Wood cook stoves are new to the 21st century home dweller. Most have seen them in history textbooks and many remember them in their grandmother’s homes. Some have even used them, but very few have actually had to buy one. As a result of the industrial revolution, the traditional cook stove was replaced with sleek modern gas and electric stoves decades ago. Who would think that the wood burning stove would have ever seen a return in popularity? And yet is has!

As it turns out the good old cook stove has a lot to offer to the modern day consumer. There is nothing like a wood cook stove to add beauty and character to a room! But beyond its obvious aesthetic appeal, a stove also provides energy independence, powerful heating, and utilizes a renewable energy source. However, chances are it’s been a few decades since someone in your family as in the market for a cook stove. So, what should you be looking for? Read on!


Durability is an important feature to consider, even more than in other products you may purchase. Live fire puts a lot of stress on the firebox. The best fireboxes must be either cast iron or lined with firebricks.



Will you be relying on your cook stove to also be a supplementary source of heat for your house? In this case, the crucial point to consider is firebox size. The size of the firebox is the main factor that will determine how much heat the stove can produce.

Cooking Top

The best cooking top is cast iron. A good cook top should also have removable burner rings. Removing the rings gives you more cooking options by enabling you to cook over open fire or with hot smoke.

The Baking Oven

As with the firebox, size is the crucial factor. A decent size oven should be approximately 2 cubic feet. Check how many racks the oven fits. How many are included? What is the cost of extra ones? It’s always good to have at least 2 oven racks.Mamy-Black-Cook-Stove_compressed

The Drawer/Warming Chamber

This is always a great option for keeping your food warm. Check if the stove has it. Some have small food warming chambers right under the baking oven. Others have large drawers at the bottom of the stove. Some stoves come with both.


Doors are of paramount importance both in terms of quality and looks! Can you see the fire? Can you see the food? To answer yes to both these questions, the doors on both the firebox and the baking oven have to be made from high temperature glass. The firebox door should also have double walls to minimize exterior temperatures.


Does the handle become prohibitively hot to the touch or can it be touched with bare hands? According to the UL certification rules, it should not be hotter than 90F above room temperature.

Ash Removal

How is the ash removed? Ideally, the doors for the firebox and ash removal compartment should be separate so that when you need to remove the ash you don’t necessarily have to expose the fire. Is there a removable ash tray or do you need to wait until the stove cools down to sweep out the ash manually?Wood-cook-stoves-homesteading


Ideally, you should have two options to connect the chimney, either from the top or from the back of the stove. This can be helpful to position (and vent) your stove exactly the way you want it. Standard chimney size in the USA is 6″. The stove’s chimney connection should conform to this size.


If your stove is UL or CSA listed, then it will come with a manual specifying clearances to combustibles. In other words, the manual will tell you how far away from combustibles you have to stay on each side of the stove. However, if your stove is not UL listed (as are all antique stoves and many of the imported ones) then you will need to observe the clearances in your local building code. In practice, an uncertified stove will need to be positioned further away from combustibles than a certified one. However, the difference in distance could be minimal.


What is the stove’s body made from? The best material has traditionally been cast iron. These days some stoves feature ceramic inserts which serve to accumulate heat and then slowly release it into the room. This is a functional as well as pretty feature, like our Rosa Maiolica stove.america-crema

We hope you have found this quick guide helpful. If you would like to learn more about beautiful wood cook stoves like the ones pictured above, please visit www.woodcooking.com.

Please rate and review our article. Thanks!

User Rating: 4.41 ( 23 votes)

About Zachary Bauer

Zachary lives with his wife, two sons and his wife's parents on An American Homestead deep in the mountains of the American Ozarks. They all moved there together in July of 2013 where they began to build the homestead. They are off-grid with the exception of a phone line.

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  1. Todd and Annette Starr

    Zach, this was a great article. My wife and I would love to have a wood cook stove on our 1/2 acre homestead. When I went to rate the article a 5 it only registered as a 3 sorry about that. Thanks for all of your videos, we have learned a lot and continue to improve our little homestead with your information. Keep up the good work. Wishing you and your family well, and continued success.

    The Starrstead, Groom Creek Arizona

  2. Hello,

    Great site.

    I was wondering are you using the Rosa at present and if so, could you give a run down it’s usage.

    The Best, Rod

  3. Excellent article, when we purchased a new cook stove our choice was the Kitchen Queen.

  4. Zach, great article. I know you are off grid, so it doesn’t really apply to you. I would be one of those “shelter-in-place” guys from a small town where this kind of stove would be a beautiful asset in a house.

    I guess what I feel like your article misses out on is the idea of a dual fuel or tri-fuel system. I don’t know if I’m going to lose natural gas or electricity in a crisis (probably electricity). If I lost both, I would still want to cook with wood as a 3rd fuel option. Is there an option out there for a stove like this?

  5. Where in ozarks. I’m moving there.

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